Is a college education needed? - Posted by trahan

Posted by Marty (MO) on January 24, 2006 at 18:58:44:

I’ve bombed out of every accredited university, college, junior college, trade school, and correspondence program in MO. That’s why they have me fight fires, I guess (all the educated people run out of burning buildings!).
Having said that, I think Ray’s views on college have broadened my perspective. Don’t go to college to get a job, go to broaden your world-view.
Lonnie’s take on education can be seen at



Is a college education needed? - Posted by trahan

Posted by trahan on January 23, 2006 at 21:38:47:

Hello, and greetings to all. I am a recent (well, last june) high school graduate who had no idea what to do with his life until stumbling upon a few websites related to real estate investment and after a lot of reading decided that i most definitely would like to pursue that as a career. Which is great, BUT, last time i checked local universities dont exactly offer a REI degree program and the idea has been shunned by a good portion of my family as being a waste of time and effort. I have a full-time job and have had it for three years, pays well, and i have about 5k saved up. And i make about 1k/month after expenses (im a cheap-living s.o.b.). Also college is a rather expensive proposition and i’d rather not graduate college with 40k in debt with a degree i probly wont even use in my eventual career. I guess after giving you my life story my quesiton is should i continue to study REI on my own, bypass (for the time being) a formal education and slowly enter the field? Perhaps invest and go to school part time, taking courses that would advnace my knowledge of REI (my favorite)? Or just stop all this nonsense and go to college like everyone else, get a boring job like everyone else, and retire conservatively?

Thanks in advance, Cheers.

How about a doctorate… - Posted by Dr. B (OH)

Posted by Dr. B (OH) on January 28, 2006 at 11:34:16:

Excellent foresight on your part. All the previous ideas are excellent, including your own posted current plan.

Please reread Tony Collela’s and PJ’s posts closely. They are LOADED with wisdom.

I went to college because it was expected. Dropped out briefly but finished. I continued taking different kinds of night courses…engineering, business, psychology. They have all been useful. Ten years after college I went back and got my doctorate in psychology and post-doc in sleep medicine. I do not regret it except for one thing.

If I had read Rich Dad, Poor Dad at your age, I am convinced I would have done what I am finally doing now in real estate, mobile homes, and another business, LONG ago.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Guy Kiyosaki, lays out the different educations you get from formal education and that you get from informal, hands-on, enterpreneurial thinking.

I have 21 years of formal education and can assure you the majority of it gears you to work for others. What do you think the professors are doing? Admittedly, much of it prepares you to think critically which is useful in every endeavor. However, virtually NONE of it teaches you how to work for yourself.

As Lonnie discovered, only 2 percent of the population make over $100K per year, they are not likely to all be in your family. Follow your dreams and find others who will support you. This is the hardest part. You want to do what your family expects of you. But they don’t understand: You expect more of yourself and have a bigger dream and plan than they can get their minds around. Go for it Trahan. Plan your work, then work your plan.

Happy Hunting,

Re: Is a college education needed? - Posted by Tim (NC)

Posted by Tim (NC) on January 25, 2006 at 12:18:23:

As the father of teenage boys, I’m not accustomed to being asked for advice. They (or my wife) haven’t realized that I have a wealth of knowlege. Much of it has come the old fashioned way, by making mistakes along the way because I didn’t think.

As many other folks have pointed out, college isn’t necessary but it will help. I have a masters degree in electrical engineering that I earned after an enlistment in the Navy working as a electronics technician. 95% of what I learned in college I never used again. But it is important to learn as much as you can in an acedemic environment for a number of reasons. You are learning from an expert. Your mistakes won’t cost you very much. You are training your brain how to learn in much the way an athlete trains his body. You will be able to more quickly pick up and understant REI techniques with a solid academic foundation. REI is not for dummies. Many of the people you will deal with in your REI career will have a college foundation, bankers, lawyers, other investors and you will be at a disadvantage without it. Can you become successful in REI without a degree? absolutely, but I think you will have more odds against you. I don’t believe Bill Gates graduated from college before starting microsoft. As a final illustration, let me point out that Tiger Woods went to college to become a professional golfer. While at Stanford, he earned a degree in Accounting. Brilliant strategy, he now knows how to count all his money and how to minimize the taxes he pays. The same could apply to one who wanted to make his fortune in REI. Best of Luck to you!

Re: Is a college education needed? - Posted by Joe-WA

Posted by Joe-WA on January 25, 2006 at 09:35:52:

Another path to consider is a technical school. These usually have two year programs and provide specific instructions for a particular field. Some virtually guarantee a job when finished. This is much more valuable than a two year college degree and with a job can provide investment funds down the road.

Re: Is a college education needed? - Posted by Anne_LLC

Posted by Anne_LLC on January 25, 2006 at 08:08:30:

No, it’s not needed.

I loved going to school as a kid and as an adult. The best gift my parents ever gave me was a love of reading. They also didn’t care what grades any of us got- they made it clear when we were little that we were going to school for our own benefit and good grades were nice, but it was more about what we learned than any piece of paper.

When I became a professor I found out that lots of kids were in my classes because they thought they “had” to be there- either their parents insisted or some degree required it. It was an (expensive) waste of time for lots of them. I found it frustrating as a teacher. To this day I am frustrated by those who miss the message because they are distracted by something other than the content.

I can’t say that any of my education or job experience has directly helped me in my real estate investing. However, my education has greatly enriched my life and allowed me to travel extensively.

My suggestion would be- whatever you do- BE THERE. Don’t phone it in. If you take a class, show up, ask questions, be engaged. Same thing if you take a job- become an observer of human nature, spend time with those who have been successful in an area you want to succeed in.

A lesson that has really helped me in real estate investing is the power of listening. Think how many times in your daily life you are NOT listened to- by your boss, by the person on the other end of the phone, by the lady at the DMV. If you want to distinguish yourself in real estate, BE THE PERSON WHO LISTENS. Hear what your seller, your buyer, your contractor is saying and you will get the sale, get the deal and get the job done on time.

good luck,


my 2 cents - Posted by PJ

Posted by PJ on January 25, 2006 at 01:02:25:

I’ll give you a quick idea about what I did & maybe that will help:

I’m 25 yrs old and a full-time REI for 1 year now.

I’ve had 2-3 jobs at a time since I was 16 and graduated with a 4 years degree from a state university in computer science when I was 22.

As a sophmore in college, I started interning at diff tech companies. I did 5 internships & by the time I was a Junior, I got offered a full-time job in my field for 60k/yr. I took the job n went to college full-time, talk about LONGGG days.

Anyway, after graduation, I was promoted twice and in Jan, 2005, I decided to take the Plunge and quit my job.

I got into real estate AFTER graduating college.

Having the degree and experience are a huge plus. If things go bad in business, I can go back to a 9-5 anytime, anywhere in order to PAY bills. Heck, I got a job offer last week for 96k/yr. College Degree was well worth it.

If I were you, I’d goto college BUT start learning things on your own that they DO NOT teach in college like:

Learn not only REI, but investments, stocks, learn how businesses operate, learn how the rich got rich, and above all - keep an open eye and you will find an opportunity.

Re: Is a college education needed? - Posted by trahan

Posted by trahan on January 24, 2006 at 22:56:09:

wow… this post has been up for a day and i got more helpful advice and forward-thinking ideas from you guys in that time than a year’s worth of guidance appointments. thank you and keep the idea’s coming.

i already pretty much have a plan in the back of my head as to what im going to do. A state two-year school runs a degree program in real estate with many extra-curricular and internship opportunities. It also has continuing education opportunities and advanced programs. It’s cheap, comparitively, to my state 4-year university (University of New Hampshire) and its about a thirty minute drive from there. I know and am good friends with many people who attend UNH, So i get the cost of a two-year school with easy access to the ‘social perks’ of a four-year. It’s also in the same university system so a transfer would be seamless if i decided i want to further my education.

Having said all that, im an open-minded fellow, and like new ideas from new people so please dont be shy with the advice. cheers.

Re: Is a college education needed? - Posted by Ryan (NC)

Posted by Ryan (NC) on January 24, 2006 at 20:54:06:

There is more to life than being stuck in a boring job that you don?t like!

As most everyone has pointed out there is no clear-cut answer to your question, everyone?s right and everyone?s wrong. It depends purely on what?s right for you! Do you like school? If yes, try the college thing for a semester and see if it fits your likes and dislikes while you study RE on the side. If not Dan?s suggestion of the military may be the right answer, and it will be the best hands on education you ever get.

There is a saying I picked up somewhere a few months ago that sums things up pretty well IMHO? ?What your future holds depends on the decisions you make today? Most folks your age are more worried about fast cars and hot dates than what life may hold 20 years down the road, you?re on the right path regardless of which route you choose to take. Read everything you can get your hands on about REI if it interest you, choose the jobs you take for the same reasons, and if after you?ve read some of the investing books on this site try a Lonnie deal to get your feet wet in REI if it still sounds like something you?d like to do.

Best wishes,
Ryan Needler

Re: Is a college education needed? - Posted by Tony Colella

Posted by Tony Colella on January 24, 2006 at 17:21:46:

While I really like this question, there is no easy answer.

Life is a journey and we must choose the path that takes us where we, as individuals, want to go. There is no one, correct method for completing Your life’s journey.

While I chose college, I do no credit it with any of my successes in life but nor do I fault it for any failures. I simply do not believe it directly advance me down my path in a manner consistent with the financial, time and opportunity cost. I don?t regret going but I don?t find it necessary to kid myself about its value to Me.

Some of the worst and most common mistakes most college bound folks (and their parents) seem to make (in my opinion) are as follows:

  • They treat college education as the end of education and do not continue to educate themselves once they graduate and obtain a job (unless as a prerequisite for another job)

  • College is not for everyone. One does not need college to become a success. College does not guarantee success. College is a path and should be viewed (in my opinion) as a means to end. What that end is… is up to you.

  • This is not the industrial age. College degrees start you out where little education is required. I talk to too many recent college grads who are working as clerks, waiters, receptionists, labor etc. (all the things they went to school to avoid). One must still work themselves up from entry level even if they are lucky enough to start there.

  • Jobs no longer provide for us without risk. Employment is quickly becoming the definition of risk in our society. You lock yourself in to a job, a company or a field that can be eliminated tomorrow by forces outside of your control.

  • College does not automatically allow you to make more money. This is too general a statement or belief. While it may allow some people to make more money there is no way to say you personally will make more money with or without college. See the above point about entry level jobs. Life is yours to capture. If you sit and hope for others to provide for you, then you are at their mercy. If you create your own destiny then you will find adventures along any path you choose.

  • College is an opportunity cost. It is expensive. If it is not the necessary path to reach your goals then it takes time away from the correct path and costs a great deal of money. If it is the path to your goal, then it is likely necessary and well worth it.

My humble opinion: We need to spend time away from entertainment long enough to quite our minds so that we can determine where we want our life’s journey to take us. With further thought, the path will become self evident.

It is the path that is important, not the paper on the wall.


Re: Is a college education needed? - Posted by Neil(ms)

Posted by Neil(ms) on January 24, 2006 at 16:22:43:

Ray asks some very insightful questions for such a young feller. I wish I had been thinking that rationally at that age.

I hate the rat-race mentality of “go to school, study hard, get a degree for a job that pays well, build your resume, graduate with debt, go to work, always spend slightly more than you make” (kind of a mini-autobiography, minus the student loan debt). It seems that most people tend to either not really “use” the degree they got or eventually hate the work they feel they’ve locked themselves into based on a whimsical choice at age 18 or so. On that side of the coin, I would say forget college and consider the advice of Dan about the military. Just thinking about it, there does seem to be a pretty good correspondence between ex-military and good sense among a lot of people I know.

On the other side of it, I agree that I wouldn’t take anything for the experiences and (eventual) maturity that college delivered. I think it usually makes sense to make a break with the local gang for a while and head off somewhere to school. I certainly don’t consider it wasted time in my case, but I’ve seen others who didn’t get much at all out of four (or five or six) years. The bottom line is that seems to open more doors: just having the degree sometimes gets you places that all the street-smarts in the world doesn’t.

As far as courses: I was a computer science major (and computers are still my “real job”…but not for much longer I hope). Some of those courses were valuable long-term, but not as many as you would think. Looking back, accounting, finance, statistics, and particularly business law (luckily I took all of them I could find) probably did more to help me in everyday life, especially REI. No, it won’t make you an accountant or a lawyer if you just take a few of them to get a minor in it, but it will prepare you for the concepts and give you a starting point for reading and learning from others.

If I had it to do over again, I think I would have gone to college but tried to find work somewhere in the real estate field during college. It could be managing somebody else’s rentals, rehabbing, pulling permits is busy areas…almost anything that would provide real-world experience in the field.

As Auburn’s (no, not my alma mater) old ball coach Pat Dye once said “Hindsight is 50/50”.


Re: Is a college education needed? - Posted by Ray (MO)

Posted by Ray (MO) on January 24, 2006 at 14:54:44:

You don’t need to go to college but it does open doors. You can do both. I have a degree and I am not working in my field of study (Major:Advertising/Minor:Philosophy) or am I?

When I was in school I managed two rental properties that my parents owned. Try drinking beer with a guy on Saturday and evicting him on Monday. I had the best time of my life in college and would not have traded it for anything.

Go to college and learn to complete a task. College is a task. Learn that the details of a deal make a difference.

Once you have a degree, it doesn’t matter in what, you will never regret the experience.

I suggest classes in business, accounting, marketing advertising, art, philosophy and language (English or any other language) a well rounded education will help you understand the people you have to interact with to do REI.


How about the military? - Posted by Dan (Michigan)

Posted by Dan (Michigan) on January 24, 2006 at 08:50:13:

Have you considered joining the military? How many former military people do you know that struggle in life and can’t seem to get a bearing or direction? Not many I would bet.

Doing a 2, 3, or 4 year stint in the military - pick a branch - will do more for expanding your horizons than any other experience - IMHO. Nothing wrong with getting a college education, but by itself I think it can leave some people without all the tools they need to be successful. I’ve done the military thing and the college thing, but if I had to choose only one, it would be the military.

You are a forward thinking person so you will do well no matter would path you decide. Good luck!


Re: Is a college education needed? - Posted by Todd (AZ)

Posted by Todd (AZ) on January 23, 2006 at 22:43:18:

Trahan, Interesting questions you pose which could garner many varied responses. I’ll give you my take on it all for what it’s worth. I have a 4 yr degree in Marketing which I really haven’t used in my life mostly via my own choice and dislike of the corporate stucture/world. That being said, my very best years of my life were in college. I grew up and learned alot during those 4 years about life, adulthood/responsibility, relationships, etc. I certainly would not discourage anyone from furthering their education but I do understand where you are coming from. Do you know any real estate investors personally who might mentor you or you could work under? Are you sure this is the path you’ve chosen in life? Or, do you know you want to be a Dr. or lawyer and therefore must go to college? Chances are, you don’t know yet exactly what you want to do in your life so that makes it a tough call. If you do go to college, I personally would recommend you go immediately after high school. I’m very thankful I did that as I now see many of my co-workers trying, in their 30’s and 40’s, to obtain degree’s on a part time basis in a local college. In my opinion, that is NOT EVEN CLOSE to the experience you will gain if you go AWAY to college asap after high school. That’s my personal opinion. If I were to have to pick a path for you to follow, given what little I know about you, I would recommend going AWAY to college but actively further your real estate aspirations via books, seminars, courses, mentors. After your first year of school, you should know which options to pursue and which feels like the best fit for you. Best of luck. Todd (AZ)

Re: Is a college education needed? - Posted by Ray (MO)

Posted by Ray (MO) on January 25, 2006 at 17:12:14:

Try Heating and Air conditioning. I’ve spent more on this guy than any other tech guy. Now that’s a skill a REI guy can use.

BE THERE - Posted by Ray (MO)

Posted by Ray (MO) on January 25, 2006 at 17:09:20:

How simple, eloquent. That is my new lecture to my kids. I love it, Thanks,

Re: Is a college education needed? - Posted by osupsycho (OK)

Posted by osupsycho (OK) on January 24, 2006 at 15:25:42:

I would have to agree with Ray. I would also add that you might try and get some classes in psychology (especially abnormal) as they have helped me a lot in this business with my customers :-). Furthermore, my biology degree has helped me with some of the substances I have found in some vacant homes refrigerators…

All kidding aside some psychology will help you be a better people person which is important in this business. You might also see if any of the local colleges offer any courses or degrees in property management.

Reccomended reading - Posted by roundhouse

Posted by roundhouse on January 26, 2006 at 15:44:55:

“Work from home at any age” by J.J.Luna

You can read the first chapter here:

WHile you are at it buy the “How to be invisible” book too.

COllege is usually a huge waste of time and money, unless you are planning to work in a field where it is a requirement for the chosen field, medicine, law, etc.

Otherwise, in my opinion its a waste.
It basically serves the purpose that the milatary used to, provideing a transition from being a child to being an adult.

Id say a couple of years in the Marines would teach you a whole lot more about yourself, and life.

Re: Is a college education needed? - Posted by Ray (MO)

Posted by Ray (MO) on January 24, 2006 at 15:33:20:

osupsycho is right. After I submitted that class list, I realized we all probably have a top 5 list of classes. I wonder what other classes I should have taken?

To be young and have the opportunity to go to college again…

Re: Is a college education needed? - Posted by George Lurker (LA)

Posted by George Lurker (LA) on January 24, 2006 at 17:37:58:

Geeeez! I feel intimidated! I only have a high school Degree! Does anybody here not have a college education?
George Lurker(LA)